We are in a spiritual warfare series. Sam, over the last two weeks, has shared something very important that I have to start with. It doesn’t matter if you believe in spiritual warfare or if you don’t believe in spiritual warfare, you are feeling the effects of it.
How do I know? Because everything in life is coming against you to send you a message, “You are a failure, you don’t add up, you are alone, just quit.”
Let me give you an example. Scripture tells us,
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God. NLT 1 John 5:1
If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, you are a child of God. That’s who you are. That’s your identity. Everything in life is coming against you to take that away. Again, scripture tells us,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. NIV John 10:10
You must see this; the battle is over you. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, you are a child of God. Your enemy is coming to steal that from you to ruin you and Jesus came to restore your identity to give you life. Your enemy is sending you a message, “You aren’t a child of God, you are a failure, you don’t add up, you are alone, just quit.” That’s the battle we are in.
In this series, Sam and I are sharing with you four strategies that your enemy is using to steal, kill and destroy your identity. Strategy 1: Agreements. He wants you to agree to a lie. The first lie: you are what you do. No, you are a child of God. The second lie: you are what has been done to you. No, you are a child of God.
Strategy 2: Appetites. When we take our good and God given appetites and use them to fill the empty holes in our hearts, it ruins us. Sam did a great job explaining that last week.
Today we talk about Strategy 3: Our world around us. I want to start today and have us look at the culture we live in. I have five questions for us to think through and notice what is normal in our world.
Question 1: How do people live their lives, what is normal? Stressed. Busy. Tired. Worried about tomorrow. How many people do you know say, “I live with priorities, I get a lot done but I also have margin.”
Question 2: How do people deal with money? In general, not everyone of course, but maxed out. Spend over 100% of our income leading to debt. Living for today. Fear of tomorrow. How many people do you know say, “We live with a budget and are prepared for things to repair.”
Question 3: How do people view sex today? Lust. Promiscuity. No boundaries. Confusion. How many people do you know say, “My desires don’t decide my sexuality, my identity is as a child of God and based on that identity, I follow God’s principles.”
Question 4: How do people live in marriage? Lack of intimacy and sex because there is a refusal to overcome selfishness to love. It can lead to bitterness and affairs. How many people do you know say, “I listen to what my spouse needs and rearrange my life to make that happen.”
Question 5: How do people view God? We avoid God until we need Him. Don’t surrender your will, stay in control. Look for a church that makes you feel good and avoids confronting you too much. How many people do you know say, “I am actively changing my life daily to follow after Christ as my Lord and Savior.”
Think about what is common about these answers? First thing we see based on what is normal; people in our culture do what they want to do. They do what feels right for the moment, the easy thing. They live in a way that says, “I am going to do what I want because it feels right.” Didn’t Frank Sinatra sing, “I did it my way”? We call this pride.
Secondly, anytime you try to bring God into the discussion, His solutions to our human problems, you will get push back. Not kidding. The response is push back on God. Our culture hates anything that suggests we change or have boundaries. We want to do what we want to do and don’t you dare bring God into it. Again, we call that pride and rebellion.
Lastly, whatever our culture does, regardless of how sinful and rebellious as it might be to God, no matter how off the chain we are, you are expected to accept it, treat it as normal and celebrate it. Busy and stressed in life, everyone is, accept it, it’s normal. Spending 140% of what you earn? Everyone does, accept it, it’s normal. A virgin till your married? What’s wrong with you, are you a pre-historic relic? Married and refuse to love your spouse the way they need you to? Isn’t that normal? Placing God in first place in your life; who has time for that? Other than a pastor, who does that for real? Too busy for God is normal. You are expected to accept what our culture says is normal.
Here is a clear snap shot of our culture. We do what we want, when we want and how we want. We resent anyone bringing God into it …cause we are not changing or living with boundaries that lead to health. And no matter how godless we are, you better accept it and celebrate it.
Allow me to be blunt: this is idol worship. We are worshipping our desires.
Scripture explains this.
15 Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God; 16 for all these worldly things, these evil desires – the craze for sex, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance – these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself. 17 And this world is fading away, and these evil, forbidden things will go with it, but whoever keeps doing the will of God will live forever. TLB 1 John 2:14-17
James, Jesus’ brother wrote,
4 You are like an unfaithful wife who loves her husband’s enemies. Don’t you realize that making friends with God’s enemies – the evil pleasures of this world – makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy the evil pleasure of the unsaved world, you cannot also be a friend of God. TLB James 4:4
Does that sound extreme to you? “Stop loving this evil world.” “You are like an unfaithful wife.” Evil? Adultery, good grief! I went and bought coffee at a coffee store and apparently I love this evil world or I just had an affair! Is this world evil? When I go on a hike, it’s beautiful. When I walk the beach at sunset, that’s amazing. When I go with my family to see the Beauty and the Beast movie, it’s too much signing but it’s really well done. Doesn’t, “Stop loving this evil world,” sound over the top? “You are an unfaithful wife,” sound a little too passionate?
Scripture isn’t saying our physical world is evil. The authors of scripture were saying, the culture you live in is evil. It’s evil because it encourages you to chase after and worship your desires. And when you do that, you slowly become an enemy with God. Let’s read how scripture puts it in the Message Version.
15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. MSG 1 John 2:15-17
Maybe we need to understand that what is normal in our culture is nothing more than idol worship. As we chase our desires we are becoming isolated from God and it’s ruining us. We do what we want to, when we want and how we want. We resent anyone bringing God into it …cause we are not changing or living with boundaries leading to health. And no matter how godless we are, you better accept it and celebrate it.
Do you see it? We are supposed to love God. However, the more we are in love with our desires, we will chase after them, pursue them, be emotionally tied to them. What happens? We leave our love relationship with God to pursue our desires. That’s the definition of an affair or cheating. We are cheating on God. Scripture said, that kind of living ‘squeezes out love for the Father.’ Exactly.
How do you know you might be having an affair on God? You don’t have time for Him. Why? You are too busy jumping into your day to chase your desires.
What is interesting about worshiping our desires, no matter how bad our lives get, we refuse to change. For example, we talk about how people live their lives. What is normal is stressed. Busy. Tired. Worried about tomorrow. If you suggest to anyone, the principle of a regular rhythm of Sabbath rest, you have immediate push back. What fascinates me is we as a culture confirm: we are miserable, tired and stressed, someone help us. God tells us to take a day off. We refuse to do it. It is the most amazing thing I have ever run into.
Scripture talks about this.
11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster against you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’ “12 But they replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, following our own evil desires.” 13 Then the LORD said, “Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, even among the pagan nations?” NLT Jeremiah 18:11-13
That’s stunning. God’s people turning to God saying, “Don’t waste your breath, we are going to live out our evil desires.” I said, God’s people said that, not the pagan nations, God’s people.
Our friendship with the world, our desire to do what we want, makes us an enemy to God and the results of our love of this world will ruin us. Our own life experience confirms that scripture is right.
Think about it, how did we start today? We defined what is normal today.
Stressed. Busy. Tired.
Spend over 100% of our income leading to debt. Fear of tomorrow.
Lust. Promiscuity. No boundaries.
Refusal to overcome selfishness to love others. Lack of intimacy and sex in marriage.
Avoid God until you need Him.
Don’t surrender your will, stay in control.
This is normal and it’s ruining us.
When we chase our desires, we lose our identity in Christ. It’s one of the strategies of your enemy to steal, kill and destroy you. So I have to ask you, what is normal for you? What do you focus on day to day? Your relationship with God? Do you feel like the world is pushing and pulling you around? Are you emotionally charged throughout the day because you want your own way, you want everything for yourself, you want to appear important?
Maybe, you are friends with what the world has to offer you, it’s almost like an affair on God.
Notice, I didn’t say hiking, walks on the beach and Disney movies are evil.
Scripture said, what is normal to our culture: “…wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important…” it’s isolating us from God. We need to end the friendship, the affair.
The invitation to you today, is fall in love with Jesus again.